Although it has a slightly rubbish title Mythic Quest Raven’s Banquet turned out to be something rather special, the one Apple Tv + series that almost makes it worthwhile to subscribe to the service. Now only three months on from the series airing they’re back with a pandemic / quarantine special, something a couple of tv shows have done so far (Parks and Recreation, Stath Lets Flats) with varying results.
As with the two Quarantine specials mentioned above it uses a group video chat as a framing device, but here it’s a selection of intimate calls and company meetings, and although there are obviously restrictions as to what it can do it feels like a proper episode of the series and uses the current situation to develop it’s characters as it examines how the pandemic has effected everyone’s lives.
Unlike the well meaning but slightly patronising Parks and Recreation special it never talks down or comes across as “A Very Special Episode” thankfully, and the main thing it cares about is making the audience laugh. It does that extremely effectively too, with creative director’s Ian (Rob McElhenney) and Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) verbally sparring and taking part in various power plays, testers Rachel (Ashly Burch) and Dana (Imani Hakim) continue to flirt but despite no longer being in the same room anymore still have to put up with their tedious shit of a boss Lou (Craig Mazin), while best of all is the ongoing selection of bets between David (David Hornsby) and Brad (Danny Pudi) which may well see David lose his dignity once again.
Jo (Jessie Ennis) and CW (F.Murray Abraham) get smaller roles as she tries to teach him how to use video chatting software but even though they have less to do they’re no less funny, and only Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) and Sue (Caitlin McGee) have any right to feel short changed. Though both still have one or two great lines, and considering the wealth of engaging characters the show has there were always going to be a couple who didn’t get the screen time they might have deserved.
Despite making me laugh consistently throughout the episode, the greatest thing about the episode, and the reason I loved it so much, is due to Ian and Poppy’s relationship. It’s been the emotional core and the best thing about the regular series and that was the case once again, but it takes it to another level here as though as always they argue in a gloriously funny manner, and we get to see more of Ian’s narcissistic ways including an embarrassingly weak cover of “Everybody Hurts” that Poppy’s reluctantly subjected too, the scenes between them towards the end of the episode step this up from being a really good episode to a truly fantastic one.
All of this doesn’t even mention the final scenes which are simply majestic, and had me punching the air as they pull off a beautifully constructed piece of physical comedy, and the final line is a spectacular one too, and one which I’m sure was echoed in the households of those watching the show. Rob McElhenney and co-writers Megan Ganz and David Hornsby deserve a huge amount of acclaim for creating something so special out of such a miserable situation, and it’s made me even more excited about the forthcoming second season than I already was.